I never signed a contract but new agency refuses to return deposit, keys or paperwork

by Readers Question

7:56 AM, 6th May 2015
About 3 years ago

I never signed a contract but new agency refuses to return deposit, keys or paperwork

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I never signed a contract but new agency refuses to return deposit, keys or paperwork

I have been a landlord for a few years and have been using a letting agency who were great. About a year ago they were taken over and the new agency are really poor at getting back to me, often never returning emails and generally their service is bad.

I have recently spoken to my tenant and she is annoyed with them as she has the same problems and they haven’t helped her with her queries so between us we decided to no longer us them and agreed would create a contract between ourselves.

As I haven’t signed a contract with the old company nor the new one I informed the letting agent I no longer required their services. They responded by informing me that yes that is correct they have no signed contract, but I need to pay £500 to buy myself out as per terms and conditions even though I have never received them. They are also withholding the tenants deposit and will not return my keys or paperwork.

Can anyone advise me please ?

Thanks Triciacontract



Comments

Neil Patterson

8:10 AM, 6th May 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Tricia,

Have you contacted the TPO and made a complaint?

wayne carson

13:11 PM, 6th May 2015
About 3 years ago

The deposit is not theirs nor yours to claim it is the tenants money. They are acting unlawfully. If there are clear breeches in the terms on their part this gives you cause to break any agreement.
It is all too common for this situation to occur in the industry. You do not need to sign anything for terms and conditions to apply or a contract formed. This is called a contract by deed. they perform a service and you have accepted by paying a fee. If however they break those terms likewise you can end the agreement.
As they did not find the tenant or suffer cost in doing so i find it hard for them to justify their claims to compensation.
In terms of paperwork simply draft your own 6 month AST and get the tenant to sign it. It removes any obligation on the part of the agent to perform duties. The relevant deposit scheme will assist you in the deposit situation. As Niel states above speak to the property ombudsman, check the agents website to find out who they are associated to for redress, they have to be by law.

t anon

14:49 PM, 6th May 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "06/05/2015 - 08:10":

Hiya Thanks Neil & Wayne for your help, yes I contacted TPO last week and they informed me to write to the letting agencies internal complaints department and to wait but it seems a long process about 10 weeks before anything happens.
In the meantime things see to be getting ridiculous and the agency are wanting money from me and emailing every second day wanting me to pay up.

I am going to call the TPO again and give them an up date and call the deposit company and find out if the tenants deposit can continue but if I can have the landlords information removed.

Thanks Tricia

Mark Alexander

14:59 PM, 6th May 2015
About 3 years ago

I recommend a joint letter from both landlord and tenant to the deposit protection provider.
.

Steve From Leicester

15:05 PM, 6th May 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Tricia,

You have allowed the agent to manage the property for a period of time, you've allowed the agent to collect the rent, and you've accepted rent from the agent minus his fees.

By doing this you've created a contract with him, and that contract will be on his standard terms and conditions unless you can prove otherwise. The fact that you haven't signed anything is irrelevant.

Wayne (above) implies that you can just cancel it on the grounds that the agent hasn't fulfilled his duties but its not quite that easy. Unless the agent's breach is so serious as to justify immediate termination you'll need to have submitted formal complaints and given the agent the opportunity to respond.

As an agent I sometimes make a cock-up (my staff and I are only human) and if we lose business as a result I take it on the chin. But I do occasionally get someone trying it on - coming up with what prove to be completely spurious complaints because they've decided they want to save themselves some money. When that happens they get a bill and if necessary I pursue them through the courts.

I guess what I'm saying is this. Reflect on what the agent has (or hasn't) done and if you truthfully believe their service has been so bad as to warrant immediate termination go for it. Otherwise stick with them or pay the termination fee.

NB: Why a termination fee? Its because an agent takes the rough with the smooth. We charge the same management fee whether the tenancy turns out to be easy to manage or proves to be a nightmare for one reason or another. What we can't do is allow the landlords with what prove to be easy tenancies dumping us to save some money whilst leave us saddled with the difficult ones.

Mark Alexander

15:08 PM, 6th May 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve From Leicester" at "06/05/2015 - 15:05":

Good reply Steve, but what are your thoughts about the agent effectively holding the tenants money in ransom?
.

Neil Robb

20:56 PM, 9th May 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi

Follow the advice given by all above If you truly believe the agent is negligent then end the agreement. They can hardly charge a fee for ending it if it was not clear in their terms and conditions as you say you were never given an agreement so how can the state what you agreed to.

Don't worry about keys change the locks and give the tenant new keys it is really easy to do if you have PVC doors in fact most locks are easy to change.

I normally find when a tenancy gets awkward the agents do little to help sort it out even when they are paid a fee.

Deposit Scheme will help sort that out when both you and tenant write to them.

Have you any prove that the have provided a poor service in comparison to previous agent.

If they keep sending you demands report them to the information commissionaire I think there is a limit to how many times and how many days apart they can contact you before it becomes harassment by demanding money.

Chances are they will know the don't have a leg to stand on and will back off. Can you imagine them going to court claiming money and asked to produce the agreement that states you have to pay them to get out when there is not one.


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